Wyoming Buffalo

The plains Indians lived on them, the railroad was built with their help, and early travelers on the trails-west often caught a glimpse of buffalo, or bison, along their journey.

I have been enamored with the buffalo since I was a kid. I love to watch them moving, so slow, over the grassed plains. If need be, they can run and running they are graceful and fast. Over the years I have snapped hundreds of photos of bison and even attempted to once draw one, with no success. Later I recalled that I had also attempted to draw a horse, cow, mountain and my friend Mike, none were critically acclaimed. That’s when I turned to taking photos, with much better success.

This weekend we traveled with friends, we have known for a lifetime, up into the Laramie Range to take a look at the buffalo that roam a ranch of thousands of acres. I always enjoy it, the roads are not fenced and if there are cross fences they are miles apart. A bit like the buffalo of the old days.
A fun trip, beautiful weather, good friends, a fine restaurant up on the mountain, and you know what?  I still love looking at the buffalo.

Wyoming's First Tribal People

Much has been written, motion pictures and television shows have been made, and a lot has been taught about Indians in the west. In Wyoming the focus is on the: Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Shoshones and Crow. But of these tribes only the Shoshones were here long term.

In 1700 the tribes of Wyoming included, along with the Shoshones, the Comanche, Kiowa and Staitans. By 1800 the Comanche had moved south and the Crow and Cheyenne found a place to live in Wyoming. The Sioux were soon to follow, arriving shortly after 1800.

Interesting that so little is written about the century and a half of the more peaceful time for Native people in Wyoming. The first mountain men/trappers came around 1820 and by the 1840s wagons were rolling on the Oregon and Mormon trails, and the west of movies and television was born.

Place Names

Sometimes doing historical research can be confusing, or maybe it’s just me. I know where Cottonwood Creek is and the Bitter Cottonwood is well known in eastern Wyoming.
Cottonwood Creek on the Oregon Trail, Two Days out of Fort Laramie by Wagon
But looking through a copy of Virginia Cole Trenholm and Maurine Carley’s, 1946 Wyoming textbook, Wyoming Pageant, I found some interesting facts.
Wyoming has:

·        30 Cottonwood Creeks

·        38 Spring Creeks

·        29 Beaver Creeks

·        25 Bear Creeks

·        23 Dry Creeks

·        21 Horse Creeks

·        18 Sand Creeks

We also have some descriptive or unusual names for streams, some of my favorites:

·        Donkey Creek

·        Dry Donkey Creek

·        Damfino Creek

·        Savage Run

·        Halfturn Creek

·        Warhorse

·        Hidden water

·        Fool Pinhead

·        Crying Creek

Many Indian names of places have been lost in history, too bad. Some of the more modern names are simply named after someone that had a bit of power or influence at the time. Seems to me that early explores, trappers, Indians, and all early people of the land, more often used names that referred to place or the landscape, something recognizable. Not so many Powell Mountain’s or Fremont Peak’s and more Roundtop Mountain, Flat Top and the Rocky Mountains.

It might all be confusing, but on a lazy summer afternoon, it sure is fun!


Mae Urbanek - A Wyoming Writer


Green of the pine, grey of the sage,

Mixed with the rocks crumbling with age;

Guarded by mountains touching the sky,

Blessed with a grandeur none can deny.
Mae Urbanek

Mae Urbanek will never be forgotten, at least in Wyoming she will not. Why? Her wonderfully researched book, Wyoming Place Names, has been continuously in print since its first edition in 1967. Few books can still be found in stores a half century after publication. I am in awe of someone who could do the amount of research needed to write this book, and before the internet.

Because of this book I know that, Bill, Wyoming was named after four ranchers, all named Bill, whose corners met here. Wyoming writer C.J. Box could have found the inspiration for his fictional town of Saddle String, Wyoming thanks to Mae Urbanek and her research of this tiny Johnson County abandoned post office. A saddle string, by the way, is what cowboys used to tie extra bundles and mail behind their saddles.

 Mrs. Urbanek was not only a writer of nonfiction but a poet and a writer that dabbled in some fiction over the years. Her fiction book, The Second Man, of which I proudly own a copy, is a wonderful read that just never got enough circulation to be a best seller. Maybe this book was before its time.  

She published other books, now out of print, and nearly impossible to find, too bad, I have read as much of her stuff as I could find, she was a gifted writer and researcher. Too bad someone can’t bring back all of her work for modern readers to enjoy.

She lived a wonderful and long life, passing in 1995, a few months before her 92nd birthday.